The swashbuckling hero, the sultry innocence of a heroine and the teeth brandishing villain: this is Indian cinema and we love it. Yes, we love the dancing around the trees and the raucous numbers which sound unsettling to the West. There have been instances thrown along the reel when a director has tried to step outside the realm and do something out of the ordinary. And unprecedented success it did result in. But those are calculated risks, call it out of the box thinking or brilliance of the script or simply, an acting masterpiece. Put against that the average Indian story ridden by the usual romantic stuff, with a marriage or two thrown in to accommodate the songs and some picturesque locations to give it a phoren feel and we go gaga.
It was Satyajit Ray who took Indian cinema and culture to a global level when Pather Panchali was screened at Cannes and won 11 international awards at that time. Quite an unparalleled achievement even today for an Indian movie. I doubt how many movie buffs would know that. But what matters is how much a movie can touch our hearts and how accurately it depicts our everyday life. The Great Indian Masala movie is the one crowds flock to. Deep rooted to Indian tradition to appeal to the vintage class and hip at the same time to allure the youngsters, the story line almost always takes a beating. However the audience love it when the hero single-handedly trounces the villain and his hundred strong sidekicks and walks away with the heroine on his shoulders. TII: This is India. We don’t want serious people working through and developing complex plots. Basically we want to give thinking a miss. We just want to return from work and watch people fight among themselves and sort it out and everything fall into place all by itself.
Before Kal Ho Na Ho was released, most people knew the plot. There was this dispute regarding plagiarism and in the mean time all that that needed to be kept under the covers was out. People went on to watch the movie and were they moved. The movie rocked commercially and Shahrukh Khan was the new drama king. If you were watching the movie the first time you would feel like going on to the screen, waving your hands to cover it up and scream out the next few scenes before it was there on screen. It was that predictable. But you do sit there with hundred choking throats through two and half hours of unmatched howling and twisted eyebrows. And the movie rocked. The songs were an instant hit. Classic example of a horribly plagiarised plot transforming into a successful pot-boiler.
But that is not the point. What should make us proud is that Bollywood has still successfully conserved its essence. A song less movie wouldn’t be that unusual for the audience which has been exposed to a lot of choices. Sometimes the inclusion of a song seems downright ridiculous. Imagine Memento with songs just like with Ghajini. Personally I would have laughed and cried at the same time. But Ghajini did rock the charts. We loved the songs. That just proves the finesse with which our directors can take a script, mutilate it, add some songs and lo and behold there is this blockbuster on our weekend schedule. Hats off to Indian Cinema (for whosoever said that Bollywood is derived from Hollywood).
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